Aiming to meet demand

Ohio strategy tries to match workforce to EV needs

Correspondent photos / Sean Barron Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted speaks during Tuesday’s news conference at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center in Canfield about the Ohio Electric Vehicle Workforce Strategy.

CANFIELD — An innovative strategy in electric-vehicle manufacturing and technology faces some challenges, but is broad and collaborative enough to prepare Ohio’s workforce for high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, several experts in the field say.

“You cannot have an economic-development strategy without a workforce strategy. They must go hand in hand,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said during a news conference Tuesday at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center, 7300 N. Palmyra Road, to unveil Ohio’s Electric Vehicle Workforce Strategy.

Husted, who is also director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, outlined a path he and other industry leaders say is essential for developing and scaling a resilient EV workforce that will “evolve at the pace of innovation and affirm Ohio as an advanced manufacturing powerhouse.”

By 2032, EVs will account for more than 60 percent of U.S. vehicle sales. Within seven years, up to 25,400 jobs will be needed for electric vehicle-related careers statewide, Husted predicted. He noted that thousands of jobs are being created as vehicle plants across Ohio are being retooled for the EV industry.

The 25,400 positions will be generated via a combination of EV maintenance and manufacturing and battery-development manufacturing, as well as charging-station installation and operations, Husted outlined in a statement.

The workforce strategy has been developed with 70 business, education, labor and individual partners that include Foxconn, Youngstown State University, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, he told a crowd of about 60 that included employees from Ultium Cells LLC in Lordstown.

Nevertheless, even though Ohio has a low 3.7 percent unemployment rate, the industry is facing key challenges. Those include a limited supply of entry-level workers, a low awareness of career opportunities in the industry and too few EV instructors and trainers, Husted explained.

For example, an estimated 58,000 jobs are in a variety of fields that relate to EV manufacturing, yet the state has only about 25,000 high school graduates annually – some of whom will leave Ohio to pursue careers elsewhere, he continued.

That’s why it’s crucial that the workforce strategy encompasses recruiting people to Ohio to help fill such gaps, as well as creating increased awareness of opportunities in the sector, Husted said.


“We see Ohio as a leader in the industry, and the number of electric vehicles in Ohio is increasing exponentially,” John Zehentbauer, MCCTC’s superintendent, said.

Zehentbauer noted that the MCCTC is preparing to launch its Innovative Energy Lab this fall, for which all 25 slots have been filled. The new addition, which cost more than $1 million, will focus on power-generation systems, along with commercial and residential charging systems for EVs and the infrastructure surrounding them, he explained.

“The center is the bigger piece of our electric-vehicle program,” Zehentbauer said. “This is the piece we have been missing with electric-vehicle training.”

An estimated 650,000 Ohio workers are in the manufacturing sector, which represents about 18 percent of the state’s workforce, Ryan Augsburger, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association president, noted.

Supplying additional such talented and skilled workers is imperative also because Ohio is competing with other states and countries in the industry, as well as in subsectors that include solar and wind energy and semiconductors, Augsburger explained.

Major car manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors also are leaving footprints in the EV industry via investing about $11 billion into it worldwide and $7 billion to build EVs, respectively, said Geoff Lipnevicius, senior manager for workforce development with Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric.

Implementing the Ohio Electric Vehicle Workforce Strategy also entails equipping area career counselors, centers and families to further support EV careers; growing and optimizing EV faculty and trainers statewide to make such education available to all; creating and amplifying new narratives related to the industry and career pathways; aligning and sharing EV-relevant advanced manufacturing curricula and credentials; and enhancing engagement of underrepresented people via trusted partners, according to a statement from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation.



Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today